Adult animation has dominated television for nearly two decades.
Programs like The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park have not only been hugely successful, but also iconic in their creation of a new genre, using a medium previously only associated with child cartoons.
The genre has come to consume our televisions, gifting us with some comic greats, as well as some fantastic works of crap (The Cleveland Show). It is no question that adult animation is widely appreciated, often hilarious (albeit equally often the opposite), and a moneymaker. So why is it non-existent in cinema?
The release of Sausage Party is imminent.
If you haven’t stumbled across its entertainingly irreverent trailer, Sausage Party is an R-Rated adult animation, chronicling a sausage (Seth Rogan) and his quest to discover the truth about his existence. While, yes, Vinny Chase’s Medellin trailer alone got the film selected for Cannes in Entourage, judging by the Sausage Party trailer, the movie could really be quite good. Scripted by the writers of Pineapple Express and Superbad (McLovin is my spirit animal), I’m hopeful.
Yet when trying to think of other adult animation movies, I hit a wall.
Sure, there have been some obscure films here and there, but none that you would dare utter in the same breath as their reciprocal, decade-running television programs. In fact, the only ones that came to mind were adaptations of TV shows, like the South Park and Simpsons movies. Animation in cinema has been dominated by Pixar and Disney, regurgitating great but similar content. There seems to be a massive hole in the film industry.
The first reason to create more adult animation movies is monetary.
One only needs to look at the upcoming remake of Ocean’s Eleven to understand how much Hollywood studios love cash. Even if we’re looking at this from a purely economic perspective, judging by television, there is a lot of money to be made from adult animation movies.
But for just a fleeting moment, let’s try to forget about money. I want feature-length adult animation because I enjoy it.
Unlike the new Ocean’s Eleven, I actually want to be watching it. There is something brilliantly freeing about the use of a classically childish art form being used for inappropriate, outlandish humour. The genre is unparalleled in its ability to venture into the sick, in a way that, unless you’re a little Flandersy, is wholly accessible. It seems to get away with everything, its animation exterior gifting itself a free pass to ridicule the seemingly unmockable flaws of our society.
I admit: adult animation is most probably better suited to television.
Plot lines are often shallow, and they’re best for when you have half an hour to think about not thinking. But that by no means suggests that big-screen adult animation would be a failure. I’ve watched Adam Sandler films. I think I’d be more than able to handle an extra long Adventure Time episode. (I’m in no way comparing Adventure Time to Adam Sandler. I’m not a monster).
And ultimately, until we’ve tested it out, we really have no idea how successful or unsuccessful it could be. Google ‘adult animation movies’ and you will be rewarded with about six films. We don’t even know what we’re missing out on.
Hopefully Sausage Party will be a success. But I’m hoping even more that it will inspire a new movie era – one in which we can sit with our popcorn through an hour and a half of semi-disturbing, semi-brilliant, adult animation.